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Pilgrim on a bicycle arriving in Castrojeriz (Burgos)

The Way of Saint James by bike

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Following the Way of Saint James, or the Way of Saint James, by bicycle is becoming a popular choice for pilgrims. Most of the routes are very well marked and it’s easy to find your way. You can enjoy cycle touring while you experience the Way of Saint James in a different way. If you’re thinking of cycling this pilgrimage route, you probably have a lot of questions.

What bicycle to choose?

Your best option is a mountain bike, and the lighter the better, so a rigid model may be more suitable than a full suspension bike. Choosing a touring bike may limit you in some stretches of the route, forcing you to find a road to continue.In any case, it is essential to have tyres in perfect condition and have all moving parts checked and lubricated. Also, you should never try out new equipment or material on the Camino - you’ll be much more comfortable with a setup you’re already used to.

Pilgrim riding a bicycle in the countryside of Castile and Leon

What equipment is essential to bring?

For you, a helmet, comfortable clothes for cycling in (lycra is always a good choice), appropriate shoes, a high-visibility vest, a rain cape or cagoule with reflectors, gloves, sunglasses, and sun block.For your bicycle, a basic toolkit for occasional mishaps, which should include patches, spanners, glue, tyre sealant, grease, and a lock and cable.

Where to put your clothes and other things you bring?

Pilgrims usually have bike panniers. If you use a backpack, try to avoid wearing it on your back if possible, to avoid getting uncomfortable or restricting your movements. It is recommended to keep the weight of luggage under 15 kilos. If you need to carry more weight, remember that you can post your luggage from stage to stage using the national post office, Correos. Some pilgrims attach a trailer to their bicycles, although this can sometimes be difficult to transport.

How many kilometres to travel each day?

This always depends on how you feel and what the weather is like, but you can estimate an average of 55 kilometres a day.

A bicycle ready to set off on the Way of Saint James

Do you need to be fit to do this?

It depends on the route you choose, but the Camino is always a physical challenge and it’s advisable to get into shape. This is a moderately athletic activity which you should already be used to, and it’s a good idea to practice cycling uphill. You should also look into exercises to strengthen your knees and your core.The best advice is to be prepared: start training a few months in advance and practice cycling routes of similar length and terrain.

What’s the best time to cycle the Way of Saint James?

The best months are April, May, June, and September, because the weather is milder and it rains much less. July and August are also good options, as long as you cycle in the early morning and late afternoon, to avoid the hottest hours of the day. From November to February, cycling is not really recommended because of the rain.In all cases, it’s essential to check the weather forecast each day, so you will be ready for rainy days and muddy terrain.

Pilgrims on the Original Way passing through Asturias

How many kilometres do you have to travel to earn the Compostela certificate of accomplishment?

You have to cycle at least 200 kilometres on the way to Santiago de Compostela if you want to get the Compostela. This is the accreditation certifying you have completed the Way of Saint James, and to earn it you must get your pilgrim passport stamped at each stage. You can get the passport from the International Pilgrim Reception Office, pilgrim hostels, and associations of Friends of the Way of Saint James in several different countries. 

The Way of Saint James on the Eastern Rioja Wine Route

Three very important final tips

- It’s better to travel with others. If you’re with friends, you can share tools and other equipment. But don’t worry if you’re alone - it’s easy to become part of a group, and most pilgrims do so.- Whenever possible, ride in single file (or two abreast, at most).- Plan each stage in advance. Load the route onto your mobile phone or GPS device, and if you’ll be sleeping in pilgrim hostels, choose the ones with the most capacity, as pilgrims travelling on foot get priority for accommodation until 8 pm.

A sign for the Camino with pilgrims on bicycles riding by